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Bighorn Peak via Icehouse Canyon

Bighorn Peak is a very adventurous hike that is located between Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks. Bighorn Peak stands at 8441 feet above sea level and offers great views of the Inland Empire, towards Santiago Peak, and the High Desert, although, not as great views as Telegraph and Cucamonga Peaks offer. The most common way to get to Bighorn is to take the Icehouse Canyon Trail, and, once you get to the Icehouse Saddle, you will head South following the sign that says Ontario Peak and Kelly’s Camp. After about 1.5 miles, you will reach a ridge. There is a sign on a set of rocks that points to Ontario Peak to the right at 1 mile, but, it is actually about 1.4, and points to Bighorn Peak to the left at 3/4 of a mile, but, that is actually about 1 mile. The last part of the climb to Bighorn Peak is pretty steep and is a bit of a scramble, but, overall, there should not be any problems in reaching the top. There is a register that you can sign once you get there. Bighorn Peak offers a great trek, but, a lot of hikers prefer the neighbors such as Ontario, Cucamonga, and Telegraph Peaks. Reaching Bighorn isn’t as tough as the previously mentioned, but, it is still a pretty strenuous 3500 foot climb with about a 12 mile round trip. I was very intrigued with the scenery of this Trek, especially after the Icehouse Saddle, and I found myself taking many, many pictures.

Danilo holding the register at the summit of Bighorn Peak.

Once you reach the saddle at Icehouse after the 2600 foot gain in 3.6 miles, the elevation levels out for a mile or so as you reach Kelly’s Camp(which used to be a mountain resort), but, after Kelly’s Camp, the trail begins the ascension towards the ridge. The elevation gain to Bignorn Peak is about about 900 feet after the saddle in about 2.4 miles, so, it is a moderate climb at that point as most of the elevation you will have gained will be from the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead to the Icehouse Saddle. Once you reach that ridge between Ontario and Bighorn, you will get excellent views towards Santiago Peak and everything in between. It is a magnificent walk on that ridge whether you head to Ontario or Bighorn. I was also fortunate enough to run into a set of about eight Bighorn Sheep twice; just past Kelly’s Camp on the way up, and once again past Kelly’s Camp on the way down. The only negative thing about this hike was that as soon as I got out of my car at the Trailhead, I busted my ankle and it was a pretty bad one(very swollen). I managed to walk it off a bit and was able to complete the entire hike, which was a very foolish things to do, but, my motto is: as long as I can walk, I am game. Overall, this was an awesome Trek and I would highly recommend it. As usual, you should be in great physical condition, and be a little cautious on the final mile or so towards Bighorn Peak as the trail can get a bit loose at times.

View of the Inland Empire from the ridge between Ontario and Bighorn Peaks.

Bighorn Peak Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 3500 feet
  • Round Trip – 12 miles
  • Suggested Time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty – Strenuous
  • Best Season – Spring to Fall

View towards the High Desert from Bighorn Peak.

Bighorn Peak is located in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Baldy. To get to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, take the I-210 to the Mountain Ave/Mt. Baldy exit, drive 4.3 miles north on Mountain Ave (which becomes Shinn Road). Take a right on Mt. Baldy Road (the end of Shinn Road), and drive 6.4 miles and take a right into the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. On the way drop by the Mt. Baldy Visitor’s Center and pick up the free wilderness permit required for the Cucamonga Wilderness. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required for parking at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

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Telegraph Peak via Icehouse Canyon Trail

Telegraph Peak from Icehouse Canyon Saddle is one heck of a challeging hike. Telegraph Peak stands at 8,985 feet; making it the highest point in the Cucamonga Wilderness, and from my experience, it is tougher than Cucamonga Peak by a notch. The elevation gain is about 4500 feet and the last stretch .1 mile or so is as steep as it can get. The peak offers fantastic views of the High Desert, Mt. San Jacinto, Mt. Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains. as well as other mountains. I would not recommend this hike when there is snow because it is very easy to lose the trail and though I am a very experienced and advanced hiker, I found myself in a situation where I am happy to still be breathing. Also, Telegraph Peak beyond the Icehouse Saddle is not traveled nearly as much as Ontario or Cucamonga Peak, so, it is quite isolated. Of course, isolation can be good, but, if you get lost, no one is going to hear you. But, I am a die hard hiker and I love challenges, although I do not plan to experience what I did on this hike ever again.  To get to the peak, by accessing the trailhead at Icehouse Canyon, you will hike a total of 3.6 miles and gain about 2600 feet to reach the Icehouse Saddle. From there, there are several peaks that you can access as there as signs posted as to which direction your desired peak is. Look for the sign for Telegraph Peak, which will also include Timber and Thunder Mountain, and continue an additional 2.9 miles to the summit. You will reach the Timber Mountain area in about 0.9 miles and then you will descend about 200 feet into the saddle between Timber and Telegraph, just remember you will have to ascend this back up, and after gaining about 4500 feet reaching Telegraph and then descending down the switchbacks of Telegraph to get back to this saddle again; well, it will make couple hundred feet seem like a lot more. But, if you love the challenge and are an experienced hiker, I say go for it! The views from Telegraph are amazing and there is also a register that you can sign as well.

View of Mt. Baldy from Telegraph Peak.

Keep in mind that to even reach the Icehouse Saddle and come back; this wil be about 7.2 miles with a gain of 2600 feet. Icehouse Canyon Trail is no joke, but well worth the workout. With any of these peaks, if you decide go to past the Icehouse Saddle, it is good to pace yourself and not rush. Save your energy because you will need it to conquer peaks in the Cucamonga Wilderness. There is another way to access Telegraph Peak from the Manker Flats, but the gain is about 3500 as oppose to 4500. But to really experience the challenge, I would recommened doing Telegraph from the Icehouse Canyon Trail. Like I mentioned before, I think it is best to these hikes in the late Spring through late Fall; when there is no snow or not much of it. The snow can get really slippery at times; especially the ice. Use your discretion if it is worth doing now or waiting until the snow clears up. As far as snacks, I have noticed from my Trek’s that bringing a power bar, beef jerky and sunflower seeds is a great way to keep energy. Telegraph Peak is also a great conditioning hike for Trek’s such as Mt. Whitney. The conditioning mostly helps with your endurance and strength, and with the elevation starting at nearly 5,000 feet from Icehouse Trailhead up to nearly 9,000 feet at the Telegraph Peak, this will be very helpful with the acclimation to get your body in condition to attempt hikes like Mt. Whitney; which stands at nearly 14,500 feet or so. The air is really thin up there.

View of the High Desert from Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 4500 Feet
  • Round Trip – 13 Miles
  • Suggested Time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty – Very Strenuous
  • Best Season – Late Spring to Late Fall

View on the ascension to Telegraph Peak.

Telegraph Peak is located in the Angeles National Forest near Mt. Baldy. To get to the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead, take the I-210 to the Mountain Ave/Mt. Baldy exit, drive 4.3 miles north on Mountain Ave (which becomes Shinn Road). Take a right on Mt. Baldy Road (the end of Shinn Road), and drive 6.4 miles and take a right into the Icehouse Canyon parking lot. On the way drop by the Mt. Baldy Visitor’s Center and pick up the free wilderness permit required for the Cucamonga Wilderness. A National Forest Service adventure pass ($5 per day or $30 per year) is required for parking at the Icehouse Canyon Trailhead.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Tar Creek Falls

Tar Creek Falls is a very interesting Trek with many deep pools and waterfalls; including a very intriguing one, but, to get to the bottom of it, you will need Special equipment: 190ft rope, 190ft recovery cord, rappelling equipment, 40ft webbing, 2 rappel rings and rock descending and ascending skills. I am just writing about the hike to the end of the line where the only way to go further is to rappel. There are no signs to trailhead, so, it is not the easiest to find, but, I will list directions at the end of this post that will hopefully get you there without getting lost. The actual trailhead is not marked either, but, you will see a wired metal gate just past the trailhead, and that wil indicate that you are going the right way. As you pass the gate, just a little bit further up, you will reach a junction where you will make a left and start a descent to a creek about 2.5 miles down. The very last part of this will be a very steep descent to the creek. Once you reach the creek, head left, but the trail is pretty much gone after that as you will be boulder hopping to reach a few deep pools that you can jump into if you wish. If you do, please do so at your own risk. If you wish to reach the canyon with the main waterfall, continue forward scaling down/up canyon walls and boulders for another mile or so to reach the very end. This part of the trek is very adventurous, and if there is a big rain beforehand, you will probably be swimming. Please use caution and please do this at your own risk and remember that you will have to return the same way you came, so, try to conserve your energy by pacing yourself. The only way from here to get to the bottom of the waterfall is to rappel(which I did not do on this trek, the hike alone was fine for me).

One of the pools in Tar Creek.

I do not recommend this hike during the Summer or when it is very hot. If you do do this on a hot day, make sure you wear a hat, sunblock and bring plenty of water. This is about a 10 mile round trip and just about all of the elevation gain will be hiking back up to the parking lot. This is a great place if you want to take a dip in the pool and do a little backpacking as the creek is very nice, and, like I said, after a good rain, this is a place that you need to see. The only thing about this hike is that once you get to the creek from the trailhead, the trail is pretty much done and it is just a matter of boulder hopping from there on out, so, it is not a type of hike that you will be on a trail the whole time, but, that does not mean that this will not be one heck of an adventure. I really enjoyed it and I plan to go back again after there is more rain. Enjoy Tar Creek, be safe and watch your steps when you begin boulder hopping.

Gyorgyi with a nice view in the background.

Tar Creek Falls Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1800 feet
  • Round Trip – 10 miles
  • Suggested Time – 5 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Fall to Spring

Danilo and Gyorgyi with Sespe Creek in the background.

Tar Creek Falls is located in the Los Padres National Forest. From the town of Fillmore in Ventura County, take A Street about a mile North to Goodenough Road. Turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Squaw Flat Road on the right (its marked as the Dough Flat Turnoff). Turn right and drive 4.8 miles up the winding mostly dirt mountain road to the unsigned parking pullout on the left. It’s located 1.5 miles beyond the Oak Flat Guard Station. Park in the pullout, display your adventure pass, and take the wide path to the northwest through the metal gate to begin the hike.

If you have any questions about this hike, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com